Just read a fascinating article about flamingos, and the physics behind that odd, one legged stance. Apparently, all warm blooded creatures lose more body heat in water than in air, so for an animal like the flamingo that feeds on bottom dwelling creatures like crustaceans, the longer it can stay in the water the more it can eat. Therefore…standing on one leg reduces heat loss which then allows them to feed for longer.
But the truly fascinating part is that standing on one leg is a learned behaviour. Mother flamingos teach their young all sorts of social behaviours, including that tricky skill of standing on one leg. The picture below shows a couple of flamingo chicks practising how to ‘dance’ like the adults:
Oh, and that bright pink colour? Apparently that comes from the flamingo’s diet. 🙂
Some of you had trouble with the laughing kookaburra video so I’ve found one that should work better. Sorry about that!
One of the many things I love about Warrandyte are the kookaburras. Have a look at the little guy who came to visit the other day. As always, apologies for the poor quality of the pics:
Tell me he wasn’t posing!
And for those, like me, who didn’t know that kookaburras are part of the kingfisher family, here’s some info. from wiki:
‘Kookaburras are terrestrial tree kingfishers of the genus Dacelo native to Australia and New Guinea, which grow to between 28–42 cm in length. The name is a loanword from Wiradjuri guuguubarra, onomatopoeic of its call. The loud distinctive call of the laughing kookaburra is widely used as a stock sound effect in situations that involve an Australian bush setting.‘
I’ve included one last video to show kookaburras in their natural setting, more or less. One, in particular, exhibits some of their instinctive behaviours. It bashes its ‘prey’ against a ‘branch’ to kill it before swallowing. Don’t worry, the bits of meat aren’t alive!
If you’ve ever read the original ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’, you may remember that in one scene, a kookaburra saves Dot by diving down, grabbing the snake that’s threatening her and bashing it against a branch to kill it. I’m not sure if a real kookaburra would be strong enough to handle a full sized snake like that, but the image has stuck with me since I first read the book. If you haven’t read about Dot, you really are missing something special. 🙂
I couldn’t resist following up some of the information in the previous videos, so here’s one about testing whether dogs are capable of:
recognizing that something is unfair and,
Unfortunately, only the first two minutes of this video are in English, but the experiment looks pretty conclusive to me:
This next video is a TED talk presented by Frans de Waal [thanks Hariod!]. It goes for approximately 16 minutes but is really interesting in terms of the parallels between human and [certain] animal behaviour: